Copyright 2006 EA Tischler - New Horizons Golf Approach. All rights reserved.
New Horizons Golf Approach
I n n o v a t i v e  C o a c h i n g  F o r  G o l f e r s

This article is from New Horizons Pocket Coach volume 3- The Athletic Golfer
written and copyrighted by EA Tischler.
    


Playing Athletically

As we discuss the task of playing golf athletically, consider the idea that athletes perform actions, and they perform the actions while focusing on
how the action feels.  For example, athletes throw, kick, swing, toss, swing, jump, run, punch, tackle, and catch.  All these are actions that athletes
perform.  And to perform these actions they focus mainly the feel.

Every golfer has the ability to play more athletically.  Each golfer simply needs to approach their play like an athlete.  Think about the way you
might play carnival games.  Carnivals provide all types of games that favor athleticism.  From basketball games, to throwing baseballs, to tossing
softballs, to pitching coins, to throwing darts, all require the feel and dexterity of athleticism.

Imagine tossing a softball into the leaning basket.  Anyone who’s played that carnival game gets to be athletic.  You step up  to the counter
without looking at, and aligning, your feet.  You pick up a softball and feel its balance in your hand.  Then you imagine the trajectory that will land
the softball softly in the basket.  

After rehearsing a few tosses, you let it loose.  During the rehearsal motions you don’t actually toss the ball, but you do imagine the flight of the
ball and you do imagine the feeling of how much of a toss is needed to get the job done.

Rehearsing an athletic action before you actually play a shot is common in all sports.  Basketball players do so on the free throw line, batters do
so at home plate, field-goal kickers do so before calling for the snap of the football.  Sometimes the rehearsal is simply imagined as a tennis
player waiting to return a serve, or as a baseball player waiting to catch and throw a ball.

No matter whether the rehearsal is performed as a dry run or is simply imagined, all athletes imagine the action they are about to perform.  Then
they use their internalized sense of feel to make the play precisely.

Professionals in all sports perform drills over and over to internalize the necessary feel.  The goal of regular training is to become extremely
familiar with the feelings needed to perform athletically.  This is because the key to being athletic is to play reactively, and to be reactive you must
feel the actions.

You can think about the proper actions all day long and never be able to perform them.  You can understand the theory of a sound swing and
never know how to swing properly.  This is because knowing how is a matter of feeling the actions, not simply visualizing them.  

Simply being able to conceptualize the actions is not enough.  Your body does not work conceptually; it operates thru a feel system.  Your body
does not understand thoughts, your body understands feel.  So, being a genius is not a requirement of being athletic.  However, you need to be
good at feeling your body’s actions.

Developing the proper feel is time consuming.  It involves repetition and it involves habit formation.  Although you can understand the proper
concept of what you want to do in a single lesson, you cannot internalize the proper feel in a single session.

It takes thousands of repetitions to internalize the feelings of an action.  Whether it was learning how to eat, drink, walk, talk, or write, you
performed thousands of repetitions before you internalized each motorskill.  Learning to toss, throw, and kick balls was no different.  It took
thousands of repetitions to internalize those skills.

Athletes understand this process and athletes welcome the opportunity to train and internalize the proper feelings.  Athletes know that their
practice routines are at the heart of their training.  Athletes know that training properly keeps the feelings of the actions ready-to-use.  I’ve even
met professionals that say if they miss a day of training they lose their feel.  Though this may be an exaggeration, the fact is that regular training
keeps the feelings of sport alive.

Now if you cannot train every day you need to make the most out of each practice session.  You can do this by isolating the most important
actions, and practicing their feel.  This is the task of being an athlete.  Isolate the athletic action, and train to acquire the feelings that let you
know you’ve performed the actions properly.  Remember, athletes perform actions, and to perform the actions you must find the feel.  

So, stop focusing on the newest swing fad, stop trying to imitate the world’s number one golfer, and learn to let go of outdated traditions.  Become
an athletic golfer, focus on the proper actions, and train those actions until you acquire the proper feelings.

When an athlete makes an error he needs to forget about it and get back into the game.  Mistakes can be assessed after the game.  If an athlete
focuses too much on eliminating mistakes during the game, she freezes, hesitates, or quits on the action.  This causes greater mistakes.  Athletes
are good about ignoring the negatives during play.  

Athletes train hard to internalize the feelings of their game’s actions. Then they react to the game’s situations during play.  Even though the
situation is ongoing, the athlete knows the rules of the game, the parameters of the field of play, and the strategies of the competitors.  

So the athlete watches the situation and reacts to the understanding of what is happening right in front of her.  For example, when playing tennis,
you react as much to the lines of the court and the rules of the game as you do to the motion of the ball and competitor.  

You react to such rules as the ball can only bounce once, and the ball must be played over the net.  So, the ball does not need to be moving for
a sport to be reactive and athletic.  There simply needs to be a set of guidelines that establish the parameters for playing in a reactive state.
Have your heard people say that golf was
not very athletic?  The picture above was
taken as I was training at the UCSD driving
range while I was in college.  These photos
show how active the muscles of the back
and shoulders are in the golf swing.  The
golf swing is athletic and uses muscles
throughout the whole body.
The picture above shows my swing as I
am approaching delivery.  Holding these
angles and storing the lagged energy
requires physical strength as well as eye
hand coordination.  This once again
shows that golf is an athletic activity.
The range of motion that the body moves through, the dynamics involved, and the coordination of all the parts makes swinging
a golf club more athletically demanding than throwing a ball, or playing a shot in tennis.

If you have any questions regarding New Horizons Golf Approach please contact
EA Tischler at (408)203-7599, or email your questions to
newhorizonsgolfer@yahoo.com.